Sunday, July 16, 2017

le Tour, the final 7 stages

Here we are, fully 2/3rds of the way thru this years grand debacle. We've got a very tight grouping of FOUR GUYS for the GC win...29 seconds! That's amazing, and I can't ever remember such a thing since I've been watching. Knowing this means this final week could very well promise some extremely exciting racing! And on the 'glass is half empty' side, boo hoo! We ONLY have 7 stages left! In a blink of an eye it will be over and the PTD (Post Tour Depression) sets in.

I'm still "bach'ing it" as Jeannie is back east on her annual 'girls vacation' (which we both have decided July is a good time for her to do that, as she can't STAND to hear P&P, and for 21 days that's all we have here in July!) So this works out best for both of us...I have unlimited TV time w/ the boys, and she is out having fun w/ friends and family and MISSING the entire Tour...it's a good system!

For a bit of catch up, Cal Fire has our local fire totally under control...I think they're calling it 95% contained, meaning they still have some crews putting out/watching for hot spots, but the rest of the OVER 2 THOUSAND 'boots on the ground' crews have been moved to other fires (about 30 to 40 miles south east we have the Whittier fire which is still going like mad....it's down by Lake Cachuma). On Friday afternoon I could see the huge smoke plume from that fire when I drove out to the base to pick up my muffins n stuff  (it was my 'every other Friday off, and I'm still fundraising for World Bicycle Relief so needed to gather my goodies and put them in the refrigerators for the weekend,  and then go to get groceries at the commissary). On the Alamo fire (the CLOSE on) they had all those ground troops, 5 aerial 'slurry' bombers, and 5 water-dropping helos. It was the biggest fire in California for a few days. I rode my bike on Friday morning on Santa Maria Mesa rd (runs east/west just below the base of some of the scorched hills)...they hadn't yet opened up Tepesquet Canyon Rd (which the fire crossed before they got it under control) but it is back open to the residents to start moving back in.

And speaking of the Alamo fire, here's a panorama I made looking over some vineyards at some of the hills that were burned (this fire burned 30,000 acres). You can see the hills are black starting on the left and going about 2/3rds across to the right, where you can see hills that are still 'brown' and didn't burn. Just a bit to the right of the not-burned hills is Tepesquet Cyn rd that goes north into the burn area (which I hoped to ride but isn't yet open to the public). I'm on Santa Maria Mesa rd (goes east/west) heading back into Santa Maria (west) where I took these pics.


OK..enough on the fires. This weekend I DID manage to replace the entire suspension on my old 2003 Jetta wagon...it has 260,000 miles on it, and the suspension was still stock (meaning that it was LONG GONE). I didn't realize how bad it was as it slowly degrades over time and you really aren't aware of it until you put in new stuff. HOLY COW! I'm suddenly NOT bottoming out on small rocks and dips in the road anymore! But I have to say, what a huge PAIN changing out those McPhearson Struts are in my garage without a lift and a full professional set of special tools (I was able to 'borrow' the spring compression clamps from Auto Zone thankfully, instead of BUYING them). But I got it done..whew! The rear shocks and springs were rather easy in comparison (did those on Friday afternoon). But it's all good now, and I installed a nice Koni set w/ lifetime warranty (not sure Koni realizes that I may take them up on that in another 10 to 15 years when they get a letter asking for free replacement struts/shocks as I hope to STILL have my car!)

Weather is pretty good here of late (summer time).I was able to get in a nice road ride yesterday morning w/ my local Cycle Star crew (Cycle Star is a local bike shop about a 1/2 mile from my house). Scott Clark is the owner and he hosts a Saturday morning ride every weekend right from his shop, where he welcomes riders of all abilities. He really caters to the newer riders, teaching them the basics of group rides as they increase their skills and learn how to ride in a group. He's a FANTASTIC rider (used to race, and is STILL one of the stronger riders in the entire area). The more advanced riders always get plenty of time to 'play' on all the climbs and descents, and we frequently regroup so nobody is ever left in the 'wind'. ON longer rides he always has shorter loops available for the newer riders that aren't capable of the longer distances. Anyway, here's the group photo one of the guys took on top of "Rim Rock", a local 20% grade section (after the stage where Froome lost the yellow the other day he wanted everybody to realize how HARD a 20% grade is, so he took the group on this loop....NICE!).


 I'm 4th from the left. Scott (the owner of the shop and host of the weekly ride) is in the middle, 7th from the left. The guy on my left (in the red/black kit) is Tony G, probably the best mechanic in town (he works over at Main Street Cycles, our local Trek dealer...Cycle Star sells Cannondale and Giant). Tony is a big guy and as such isn't a fantastic climber, but boy, get him on flats, rollers or downhills and he's FANTASTIC! (and on a mt bike he's an absolute DEMON descender!) On our way back into town Tony split the group (as usual) as he can really plow into the wind like nobody's business (he claims it's all 'the bike' as he rides the new Trek Madone aero road frame w/ the sweet Bontrager deep dish carbon wheels...benefits of working at a bike shop). I was one of the guys 'caught out' by his acceleration as our group fragmented, and had to soldier on alone to the next regroup point. Like Aru, I should have been closer to the front, knowing he was going to go fast.


And that's a wrap from here. Time for me to go watch the current Stage (15). Go Bardet and Martin!!

Viva le Tour!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Tour Talk, week 2

Good Saturday morning to you all! It's been a rather tumultuous ride during the first week to say the least. Stage 8 is underway as I type (I'm sitting here w/ the stage on the telly and a nice steaming cup of joe). P&P just talked about the finish of yesterdays stage, "the closest finish in Tour history". They showed the picture they used to determine the winner, and I just don't see how they can say either rider won. The red line looked exactly the same, touching each tire IMO...I personally think it should have been a tie...there's a first for everything. The person Paul talked to said they determined the time difference as .0003 seconds. That's three Ten-THOUSANDS of a second. I'd personally call that a tie. I think BoasHag got gypped. Just my 2 cents worth. And looking thru the 'what might have been' glasses, if BoasHag can get THAT close to Kittel, where WOULD Cav have been? I'd say he'd have won that one by a CLEAR margin. Again, just my 2 cents worth.

So...what's in store for us this next week? Tomorrow is a BEAST of a stage...three HC climbs. Today everybody better be saving themselves...got a huge breakaway today and a mini break from that. Not sure if the sprinters teams will throw away the energy to pull them back or not...time will tell. OK. I need to get back to the stage. Oh...on a personal note, we've got a fire about 8 miles north of us...it started Thursday afternoon and quickly blew up into 3000 acres. Not sure what it is now but the slurry bombers and choppers have been flying and our sky is totally occluded with the smoke, and outside it looks very serene...no sun, just a diffuse brown glow...very odd. And everything has a nice coating of ash...some pretty large pieces too, no wonder fires spread so very easily...large pieces of ash blow so many miles from the fire, how do you stop THAT?

And JD, is this the same Video you put the link to in your comment in the last post?  (I tried to open your link but got a screen saying something about it being ASO property and was blocked).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4fnxsvaQVA

This is the one Susie mentioned...2 penguins, one passing, pretty darn funny! A very nice animal summary of the entire Cav/Sagan ordeal.

OK. Back to le Tour.

Game ON!

Sunday 7/9/17 update: we have had a fire burning since Thursday evening right outsdide of town. As of Friday morning it was at 3400 acres, Sat morning it was over 6000 acres, and it exploded to over 19,000 acres this morning, and the latest bulletin says it's now over 24,000 acres and only 10% contained. This fire is literally a few miles out of town, and is at and crossing Tepesquet Canyon Rd (which I did a road bike ride on a week ago Saturday, and is chock full of horses, cattle and other ranch animals and families). Here's a few pics from the local news:

 Satellite heat map of the fire as of EARLY this morning (Sunday). It's already much bigger now. You can clearly see the northeast side of Santa Maria. The fire started at the north-west end of the heat-map on Hwy 166 by a car (sparks I gather) and the winds have blown it south/south-east (our standard winds). 

This is a satellite shot showing the smoke blowing early yesterday (Saturday) morning. Santa Maria is under the intense smoke just after where it starts. The promontory sticking out under the smoke as it goes offshore is where I work: Vandenberg Air Force Base. I drove out to the base yesterday morning after it was apparent I was NOT going to do a road bike ride (due to it snowing ash in Santa Maria) and the base was also under the smoke, and there was tons of ash right at my parking lot. So no road ride yesterday at all.

This is a 3d heat-map (same time as the 1st one) showing the roads. The yellow line cutting thru the middle of the fields just below the fire is Santa Maria Mesa Rd (which we did last Saturday), and you can see at the bottom right of the picture where it ties into Tepesquet Cyn Rd (the yellow line going north at the right of the picture). If you follow the rd up the canyon you can see the fire is AT the road, and that was as of 12:30am...so it's likely crossed and is moving fast east/south-east. We've got a LOT of super-dry fuel as we had record rains this winter/spring, and now we have record fuel for what's shaping up to be a HORRIBLE fire season.

I'll update further as the fire progresses. Pretty crazy stuff for sure having a major fire (as of this afternoon the biggest in California) just a few miles from town.